10 Essential Watercolor Tips for Every Beginner Artist

Aug 26, 2021 | 0 comments

Are you a beginner artist and are looking for watercolor tips to get you started in the right direction? You’ve come to the right website! Keep reading to find out more!

Despite its technicality and difficulty, there are many reasons why watercolors are popular and well-loved among artists. Its ability to blend and layer colors, its transparency and its affordability are just among the reasons why even beginner artists choose to use this medium.

Watercolor is a fun medium and although it can be kinda tricky, it’s a wonderful skill to learn. You can make so many beautiful artworks with this medium and all it takes to master it is time and patience.

If you are just starting your watercolor journey, you have a lot to learn ahead of you. To help you get started and to make it easier, we’ve put together a list of essential watercolor tips that every beginner must know. We will talk about the right materials you’ll need, some basic techniques, simple hacks, and general project planning.

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Have the Right Watercolor Materials

Get good quality watercolor paints

While you can get a cheap paint set as a beginner, investing a little bit more money for some good-quality paints can be so much more beneficial for your artistic journey. Cheap paints fade over time and aren’t very pigmented so you’ll end up using more. Good quality watercolor paints retain their color for a longer time and contain more pigment so your paint set will last longer.

Want to know our favorite watercolor sets? We have an article dedicated just to that! Spoiler: We love Winsor & Newton and Sennelier. Read more here: The Best Watercolor Set for Beginners.

Have a variety of brushes

As a beginner, you might think that having a set of brushes is too much. You’re not entirely wrong. 15 brushes is a lot. As a beginner, you’ll only need 3 brushes of different sizes to get started. Depending on the size of your project, try to have a good variety of brushes in your set of watercolor supplies. As a fellow amateur, I recommend getting one small and one large round brush, and one flat medium brush.

Looking for the best brushes for beginners? Here are our favorites: The Best Watercolor Brushes for Beginners.

Get good quality watercolor paper

The last thing you need before you start watercolor painting is good watercolor paper. This is essential because watercolor won’t give you its best result if you paint it on any other paper. Getting heavyweight paper specifically made for watercolor is essential.

Some of our favorites include Canson and Fabriano watercolor paper. Read more here: The Best Watercolor Paper for Beginners 

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Essential Watercolor Tips For Beginners

Experiment with the amount of water

The amount of water determines how light or dark your color will be. This is one aspect of watercolor painting that you will need to understand so experiment and practice mixing your paints. Too much water will dilute your pigments and will make your paint spread easily and further on your paper, while too little water will result in thick colors that will not flow as watercolors should. Experiment to get the right amount of water where the colors are still vibrant but the paint flows well.

Paper towels or rags are your best friends

Like other paint mediums, watercolors can be messy so it’s always handy to keep a rag or some paper towels nearby while you work. Paper towels and rags (whatever you prefer) will save you from spills. You can also use them to blot out extra water from your work and wipe out extra water from your brush. Additionally, Q-tips can be helpful in cleaning up smaller sections of your painting.

Mix more paint than you plan on using

Watercolors dry fast. To avoid streaky brush strokes, you’ll have to consistently apply and blend the paint. Always make sure to mix more paint than you intend to use to avoid running out of paint when covering a large area. Mixing paint takes some time and once the area you’re working on dries, it will be hard to blend the dry layer into a new wet one.

Use masking tape for clean edges

To keep your edges and borders clean and white, a simple hack is to use tape to mask off the areas. Use a tape that won’t rip your paper, it can be painter’s tape or drafting tape. You can also use washi tapes or masking tapes. For masking tape, stick them two to three times over fabric before sticking them to your paper to get a little bit of their stickiness. Paint over the tape and once your work is dry, you can slowly remove the tape.

Test your swatches

Most of the time, the color you see on the palette is going to be different when you apply them on paper. To avoid mistakes and making the wrong color choice, test your swatches on an extra piece of paper before putting them on your project.

Start from light to dark

When it comes to watercolor, always keep in mind to work with the lighter colors first before going to the dark colors. This technique is time-consuming and will require patience and planning, but the end result will be really worth it. The thing about watercolors is that colors are easy to build up so if you don’t plan and you forget to preserve your highlights and the lighter section of your painting, it will be very difficult to adjust it.

Plan your white sections

Watercolor painting needs planning. Think of your whites and highlights before you go crazy with painting colors. Watercolor is very fluid and to preserve the areas you want to keep paint-free, control your brush and explore negative painting. Or better yet, use masking fluid to cover those areas.

Final Thoughts

Watercolor is a delicate yet versatile medium and it requires a lot of practice so you can get the best results out of it. But while there are many more techniques you can learn out there, these essential watercolor tips will help you with the basics.

Take the time to get to know watercolor and its nature. Practice, experiment, and lastly, have fun! There may be a lot of technicalities in working with watercolors but it’s ultimately up to you to make this medium work for you.

To learn more techniques on how to paint with watercolor paints, read this: Watercolors for Beginners.

Renee Alexis

20-something Filipina, an introvert who loves young adult fiction, brush pens, Taylor Swift, and Mobile Legends. Coffee runs in my bloodstream.
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